Smile Politely

A lunch from every restaurant at Broadway Food Hall

Twinkly string lights hang from the high ceilings inside Broadway Food Hall in Urbana, and the aromas of five different restaurants fill the large dining hall. I’m a fan of this place: there are so many options for things to eat. 

There are burgers and pastrami sandwiches on the menu at La Royale, and there are Cambodian and Filipino dishes at A Taste of Both Worlds. You can get poke bowls from King Kuma, build-your-own Korean and Mexican rice bowls at Muchacho, and find Latin American dishes at El Paraiso. Each restaurant has their own menu, but all five share the same casual dining room.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The tables are open seating with good wifi, and there are plugs near some tables for those wanting a working lunch. You pick which restaurant (or restaurants if you want to mix-and-match) you’d like to order from, and order at that counter. Find a table and wait for your food to be delivered to your seat or listen to hear your order called out to pick up from the counter if they are busy.

I assigned myself the task of eating lunch from each of the five restaurants inside Broadway Food Hall, and it was a delicious assignment indeed.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Bánh Mì | A Taste of Both Worlds

There’s a lot to love about A Taste of Both Worlds, but the menu item I love most is the bánh mì sandwich ($9.50). The sandwich has gio bi pork, pâté, and fresh toppings on a French baguette with mayo and butter. You can also order the sandwich with beef instead of pork for no additional cost.

The sandwich had big pieces of chewy, marinated pork with a smoky and sweet flavor. The pork was grilled crisp on the edges and still had fatty parts with a luscious chew. The fresh sandwich toppings balanced the grilled meat: cucumbers cut artfully, cilantro sprigs, vinegar carrots, pickled radish, and fresh jalapeño slices all on a very soft bun. There was a light orange sauce that dripped and gave a spark of heat to the sando. I loved the peppery, porky, amazing flavor of the sandwich, and it carried out well. 

If you want to see what else you can find at A Taste of Both Worlds, check out their two menus: Filipino menu and Cambodian menu. Order in person at Broadway Food Hall.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Flautas | El Paraiso

El Paraiso makes fantastic food, and the menu includes Latin American favorites like arepas, mofongo, tacos, and more. I love flautas, and anytime I’m at El Paraiso, I order the flautas ($9.25); I cannot stop myself. They are a must have dish at El Paraiso for me. 

El Paraiso’s flauta entree included three corn tortillas stuffed with shredded chicken and cheese, and then fried. The flautas were served with white rice, a hearty serving of beans, plus a side of sour cream, pico de gallo, and lettuce. The flautas were served super hot, and the exterior had an audible crunch when biting into it. The chicken and cheese filling was full of flavor and so juicy, not at all dry as some chicken flautas can be. The cheese made these flautas so good. The flautas were salty and had a great fried flavor without tasting greasy. The beans were good, and the rice was a nice side, too. 

Order online for pick up or get a plate of these to eat at one of the many tables at BFH.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

BYO Poke Bowl | King Kuma

King Kuma serves made-to-order poke bowls. On the menu, there are four signature house-created bowls and an option to create your own poke bowl — which is what I did. The first thing to pick is the poke: tuna, crab, tofu, shrimp, and salmon. Next to select is the base: white rice, brown rice, or mixed greens. For BYO poke bowls, you can add veggies: carrots, daikon, red cabbage, cucumbers, edamame, sweet corn, radish sprout, and seaweed salad. Then, you can choose toppings: ginger, masago, jalapeño, pineapple, nori flakes, fried onions, or tempura crunch. There is an option to add extras like avocado, crab salad, calamari salad, or tamago. Lastly, you can pick a sauce to top it all off: classic Kuma, spicy mayo, and hot fire. 

For my bowl, I chose raw tuna, white rice, carrots, cucumbers, and edamame with ginger, fried onions, and tempura crunch, plus an added crab salad and a drizzle of both the Kuma sauce and spicy mayo. I chose a regular size bowl ($11), so with my crab salad addition ($1.25) the bowl ended up costing $12.25. For an additional $1.50, the bowl can be upgraded to king size, but the regular size was plenty big. The chilled rice went well with the cold tuna bites. The diced cucumbers and shredded carrots brought a yummy, crisp flavor to the bowl, and the tempura crunchies and fried onions added a lovely crunch. The crab salad was creamy and pretty tasty. I liked the sweet dark sauce and the slightly spicy mayo as a way to bring all of the flavors together.

Check out the full poke menu here. Get your poke bowl from King Kuma in person or order online.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Cheesesteak | La Royale

In the center bay of the BFH vendors, La Royale is an American-style restaurant offering smashburgers, grilled cheese, pastrami sandwiches, deli sammies, wings, fries, and onion rings. On the specials menu, you can find Phil’s cheesesteak ($8.50). Notice that La Royale thankfully doesn’t call this a Philly cheeseseak. I lived in Philadelphia; I know a Philly cheesteak (give me mine whiz, wit from Jim’s on South Street). This ain’t a Philly cheesesteak, but it is certainly a delicious meaty, cheesy sandwich on a soft hoagie roll.

La Royale’s cheesesteak sandwich was so freaking good. The thinly sliced beefsteak had a great chargrilled flavor. The cheese melted well with the beef and even a little into the bread. The grilled veggies were cooked well: not too soft. The grilled red onion in particular made my mouth happy with a warm, little crunch between the soft sandwich buns. It’s a solid cheesesteak that was super filling and hit the spot on a cold day. Oh, and you have to get the crinkle-cut fries ($2.75) as a side because they are delish. It’s extra, but treat yourself.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Sometimes I even order a basket of La Royale’s fries to go with my bánh mì from A Taste of Both Worlds; that’s not a typical pairing for the Vietnamese sandwich, but that’s the fun of eating at a food court.

Read La Royale’s menu here, and put in an online order or visit Broadway Food Hall in person.

BYO Bowl | Muchacho

The fifth and final restaurant in Broadway Food Hall is Muchacho, a restauant that serves build-your-own rice bowls — and it also shares a register with King Kuma. There are pads of paper for customers to mark what they’d like in their bowls, and you can order verbally with the staff who makes the bowls, too. The bowls begin with a choice of rice: cilantro rice, Mexican rice, or kimchi fried rice, then a choice of protein: barbacoa, chicken, spicy pork, and sesame tofu. Bowls can be topped with mixed greens, pico de gallo, roasted corn, peppers, black beans, carrots, spicy cucumbers, kimchi, mushrooms, pickled daikon, shredded cheese, or scallions. Lastly, you can add sauces to the bowl: red dragon, sesame ginger, teriyaki, and sour cream.

Set up like Chipotle, there are tubs of protein, rice, and toppings behind a glass guard. I asked for my bowl ($10.25) to have kimchi fried rice, barbacoa, carrots, mixed greens, kimchi, spicy cucumbers, roasted corn, pickled diakon, scallions, red dragon sauce, and a little bit of sour cream. The fried rice on the bottom was great, and the barbacoa was flavorful, shredded beef. The cold, spicy kimchi was terrific with the oily warmth of the fried rice. The mixed greens were tasty with the red dragon sauce and kimchi, making a very spicy Asian side salad atop the rice and savory barbacoa. The crunchy daikon and cucumbers had a cooling freshness that immediately gave way to spicy. The red dragon and kimchi together had a big heat that burned in the best way. My mouth was stinging, but I couldn’t stop eating, finding more rice and barbacoa to give relief from the deliciously spicy bites.

At Muchacho, there were many options for customizing the bowl, and I liked having my meal exactly how I liked. Order in person if you want to specify how much of each item for your bowl, or order online

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

You can also have an adult beverage at BFH. At the far register (the one with King Kuma and Muchacho), you can order beer or wine in addition to sodas and juice. You can find more drinks at the other food counters, too, including a horchata from El Paraiso that Tias wrote about in her booze free sips article.

All in all, Broadway Food Hall is a great spot with lots of options and awesome food at affordable prices. It’s a great place for groups especially if you and your friends like to eat different stuff.

The giant food hall has plenty of spaced out tables and a few couches in a large, airy space with cute overhead lights. Finding a table at BFH hasn’t ever been a problem for me. If eating in a restaurant isn’t your jam, all the food from each restaurant can be ordered to go. It’s a fast, casual joint, but it is a really good place to grab lunch.

Broadway Food Hall
401 N Broadway Ave
T-F 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sa+Su 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

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